Category Archives: Imported

Celebrating Baby

I’m still playing catch up on the old blog…hope you don’t mind!  This September Jessica and I had the privilege of throwing a baby shower for our sister-in-law Angela.  Angela and Elliot (my husband’s youngest brother) were expecting their first child this fall; a baby girl.  My mother-in-law Mary, very graciously offered to host the shower in her beautiful backyard.  Which was fitting, because almost 2 years earlier, Elliot and Angela were married in that same backyard.

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchardThe stunning dahlias came from Kelley Farms, who spoiled me with buckets of amazing peach and cream colored flowers.  I arranged them in simple sage and cream pitchers.

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

We had feared a hot and still evening (as September evenings are known to do around these parts) but thankfully the night ended up being so pleasant.
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Jess had the idea of filling white balloons with gold polka dot glitter and having them floating around the party.  I love how playful and sweet they looked.

Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

A few years back Jess and I went to a friend’s baby shower and en lieu of shower games they asked people to fill out a “Wishes for Baby” card.  I loved the idea, and so Jessica went about designing this gorgeous card which matched the party invitations.  Each one of the guests took a few moments to fill out the card for Angela to enjoy reading later, and someday hopefully her daughter will read them too and know how well she is loved by so many people!
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Because we knew it would be a warm evening we served iced coffee and ice water.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

The girls were so excited to be at the party and to wear their matching party dresses (naturally my daughters aren’t wearing any shoes).  These girls have been eagerly awaking the arrival of a baby girl cousin FOR EVER.  Little miss had celebrity status even before she was born!
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Lest you are under the mistaken impression that they are little ladies.  Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

And here they all are with their (and I quote) “favorite Aunt”.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Vintage Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

We served strawberry, and Nutella mouse parfaits with a layer of sweetened pretzel crust; along iced oatmeal shortbread cookies, cream puffs, salted almonds, and fresh fruit.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

I think the girls ate a dozen cream puffs each.  Miss E ended the night with a terrible stomach ache (silly girl).Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Friends and family began to arrive as the sun started to set.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

It was also Jessica’s idea to swag lights behind Angela to provide a some extra lighting after dark.Vintage Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Aunt Angela had lots of helpers at present opening time, more than she needed that’s for sure ;) Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchardHappily I can now report that sweet little baby girl has arrived, she is healthy and beautiful and so well loved!

Summer Pinecrest Trip {2016}

It’s nearly November but I couldn’t let another week pass without sitting down to write about our trip to Pinecrest.  It’s become a summertime tradition that the kids look forward to so much, and I want them to be able to read about our trips to the cabin, so for the sake of keeping memories…

This past July, over the week of Justin’s birthday, we loaded the minivan up and headed to the Pinecrest cabin.  We’ve been so fortunate to be able to rent the same cozy cabin for 4 summers now, in fact it hardly seems like summer if we don’t make it to the lake!

I packed all the really important things for myself, library books, embroidery, and of course flowers from the garden.
Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We woke up the first morning on Justin’s birthday.  He got up early to make us all a special breakfast.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

His famous chorizo breakfast burritos that we all happily gobbled upPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Miss P is the Queen of bedheads
Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We tagged along with Justin as he did a round of disc golf Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Miss E spent the entire trip diligently recording all our comings and goings in her new journalPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Of course it wouldn’t be Justin’s birthday without homemade berry pie.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We enjoyed pie and coffee from the back deck of the cabin that evening.  After dark we hunkered down and watched Five Mile Creek episodes and relived my childhood :)  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The next morning Grandpa and Grandma Wolfe, Uncle Jared and Aunt Jess and the cousins came up to spend a day on the lake with us.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

You can never have too many floatation devices Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

She loved the water, but every once in awhile the coldness of the lake would catch up with her, and she’d need to spend some time bundled up in beach towels. Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

These girls thought it was the best fun to get soaking wet in the lake and then roll in the gritty, dusty sand.  Their mothers cringed at the thought of all the sand they’d need to rinse from their hair later that eveningPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We rented a few canoes and everyone took turns paddling around the lakePinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

This photo makes me laugh!  I can’t remember what kind of comments were being shouted from the shore but it obviously got Grandma pretty animated and Grandpa laughing

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Even Miss P got a turnPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Uncle Jared stayed bone dry until he reached the shore :)  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The $2.99 floats I bought from Target earned their keepPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We brought everyone back to the cabin, threw kids into tubs and showers, and got everyone changed into clean, dry clothes.  The men went to pick up pizza and we enjoyed a fine night filling our bellies with good pizza and watching the sun set behind the trees.  The cousins headed back down the mountain but Grandpa and Grandma W stayed the night and spent most of Monday at the lake with us again.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We spent our whole vacation lounging at the cabin or the lake.  Normally we try to take some hikes but on the very first day of our trip, Miss E got a bad blister on the back of her heel, and G ended up leaving home with only flip flops…so hiking was no longer an option.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Is there anything better than soft-serve Snack Shack ice cream cones?Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The last night of vacation we packed a picnic dinner.  We swam at the lake until late, and had a small BBQ while we waited to watch a movie at the Pinecrest, Movie Under the Stars amphitheater.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We took a moment to snap a few pictures of kiddos.  I love those happy sun-kissed faces!Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

I really, really love these pictures of the boys

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Sometimes I think they’re more like puppies than boysPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We huddled together eating popcorn and watching The Secret Life of Pets (which was a big hit with all the kids).  When the movie ended we loaded sleepy kids up in the van, headed back to cabin to throw our luggage in the car, and took the long drive back down out of the mountains.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchardAnother beautiful summer by the lake.  Another year of fun in the funky cabin.

The Big News…

I cruelly left my last post with a big teaser and then promptly disappeared for nearly two months!  It wasn’t intentional but sometimes these things do happen.

Anyway, the big news is we’re moving!  But not to worry we aren’t going far.  Just next door in fact.  This past July we signed the papers to purchase the three acre plot next door to our property.  It features a one-hundred-year-old, charming house that is perfectly situated on top of a hill surrounded by trees, it also has a very large shop, a gorgeous view off the back of the property and… lots of junk.  So much junk; inside and out and all over the property.  Did I mention that it happens to be the neighborhood eyesore?
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

But nothing that a lot of hard work won’t fix.  Really if you can look past all the abandoned cars and piles of rubble, it’s a gem of a home and the sweetest little setup anyone could ever wish for.  It’s on a hill for crying out loud!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with our area, we live in a giant valley.  It’s flat everywhere.  When I drive over the freeway overpass my kids get excited, that’s how flat it is around these parts.

Needless to say we have a lot of work ahead of us and we alternate between feeling so excited and feeling so overwhelmed.  But I thought I’d give you a brief tour of the house (soon I hope to post pictures of the property and shop).  These picture s were all taken over a month ago so things have already changed but for now they will have to do!

So, lets begin with the font door.  You walk in through this charming front door which I’m hoping to keep and paint a fun color (maybe yellow?).  I like all the carvings and the oval glass; I think it really fits the house.

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the view you are greeted with; the living room area and a view of the staircase.  The doorway at the bottom of the stairs leads to a small bedroom, and the doorway to the right of picture is the downstairs bathroom. There was a lot of stuff left in the house when the previous owners relocated.  If you can believe it these pictures don’t show half of the stuff that was left behind.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Still standing at the front door, if you look to your right, you will see what will eventually be our dining area, the kitchen, and the walk-in pantry.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The kitchen was gutted before we took over the house; it was an edition that for some reason includes an indoor fire-pit??  As much as the boys are lobbying to keep the indoor fire-pit I think it will be one of the first things to go.  Obviously we’re starting from scratch here in the kitchen (actually every room in the house is from scratch) so there are a lot of big decisions to make here.  Because the home is older and has a farmhouse feel to it, we’d like to keep that look as we update the whole house.

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

That is the side door that leads out to a rundown garage.  The very large, convenience store fridge has since been moved and the entire kitchen is empty. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the downstairs bathroom, which the previous owner had begun to redo but hadn’t made very much progress by the time he decided to move.  It’s decent sized but long and narrow which is proving to be a little challenging as far as layout is concerned.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the downstairs bedroom that is right off the base of the staircase.  Initially this room seemed like it was in the best shape and would require the least amount of work but as we were taking out the flooring we noticed some water damage behind the bead-board so all of that had to come down. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The kids love this hand-carved heart light switch so I think it will stay. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Here we go up the narrow staircase.  The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Directly to the left of the stairs is the very large,and very scary upstairs bathroom.  This is a space that has loads of potential but it’s going to take a lot of work to unlock that potential.  While the bathroom is large, the huge window and low ceilings are tricky to plan around.  Where to put the shower, and the vanity, and the mirrors?  How do we create and maximize much needed storage?
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The large picture window will have to go.  Who puts a giant window in their upstairs bathroom anyway??  We’re kicking around the idea of dividing this room in two, but we’ll see.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

From the bathroom you can see the length of the upstairs hallway.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Sections of the hallway walls were removed to install builtin storage.  Those will need to be designed and installed.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the largest bedroom in the house and was meant to be a master bedroom.  Justin and I considered using it for our room, but it’s not connected to a bathroom and it’s upstairs in “kid central”.  In the end we decided to have the girls share this room.  There are a lot of skylights in this room, which are sort of nice because they let more light in the room, but they create a LOT of heat for a westward facing room.  Still trying to decide what we want to do with the skylights.
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Directly across the hall is a second bedroom that will become J’s room.  It has a small closet and a window that faces east.  I love the charm of the upstairs bedroom.  All the cozy nooks and corners.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

At the end of the hall is the third and last bedroom which will be G’s room.  This window faces the front of the property.  The upstairs bedrooms are all in pretty good shape.  Painting, framing the windows, and adding trim are the extent of the work that needs to be done to those rooms.  The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Heading back downstairs there are three doorways at the very center of the house.  The middle door leads the back the house.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I love this little builtin cupboard and I think it will look really nice painted.  The shelves are shallow so it’s not practical from a storage stand point but they add character (which is important!).
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I think this back room was at one point the kitchen, but we’re going to use it as a laundry room/sewing room.  At first I wanted to keep some of the cupboards but as we started really looking at them, we realized they aren’t quality cabinets and rodents had been living in them for the last year….so out they came.
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the same room looking out to the hallway that leads to the living room.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The ceiling is paneled with old wooden drying racks and I actually really love the look.  I’d like to take them down and give them a little TLC, maybe some whitewashing before we rehang them?  Maybe I’m crazy but I also like this lamp shade.  I think I could work with it; do a little paint and fabric makeover.   The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Most of the doors and hardware seem to be original to the house and I’d like to keep as many of them as I can salvage.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Sorry this next picture is so blurry, it was getting steadily darker and my camera was having trouble focusing.  This is another hallway that connects the “sun room” to the rest of the house.  The sun room is and addition to the house and is in rough shape.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

It’s got potential but it need so much work inside and out.  We’d like to eventually convert this into a master bedroom/bathroom suite but for now Justin and I will use the small downstairs bedroom.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I love the beams and the vaulted ceiling!  I think this could be a really lovely master bedroom with nice windows and a little sitting area.  Some place tucked in the back house to provide a little peace and quiet.The Hill House | InAnOrchardAnd that’s the house tour for now!  I can already tell that it’s going to be a challenge to keep up with the house progress but I will try to be better about doing house posts (posts in general!).

I can’t wait to see this house take shape and have it feel more like a home and less like a construction zone ;)

Thanks for coming by, for your patience during quiet times here on the ol’ blog.

See you soon, April

Turning Three

My sweet girl, you were so excited about your third birthday.  It’s hard, when you’re just a little thing, to figure out how Birthdays work.  Everyone else was having birthdays, opening presents, blowing out candles, eating cake…and every time you would ask, “Will it be my birthday now?  Tomorrow?  When will it be my birthday?”

But finally, at long last your birthday arrived.  Daddy woke you up early and took you to breakfast.  You had a hard time shaking off the sleepiness while you ate your special pancakes.
Turning Three | InAnOrchard

When you got home from breakfast I had all your presents wrapped and waiting on the coffee table so you would see them right when you walked in the door.

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We let you open a few small presents right away, and saved your bigger gifts for after dinner when Grandma and Grandpa W. would arrive.  You gasped and clutched your Hello Kitty chapstick rings, and positively beamed when you opened your very own bag of Jelly Beans.  Your Daddy glanced over at me and said, “Sheesh, were there no small bags of jelly beans at Target?”  I just grinned sheepishly and shrugged.

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We filled up the pool and you spent nearly all day in your swimsuit.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

Your were a generous little soul and shared your jelly beans with big sis.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

The next important thing on the to-do list was the cake.  You had been talking about and planning your cake for months!  Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We bought large and small gumdrops from the big bins at the grocery store.  We fished the tiny cookie cutters out of the big box of cutters and you and your sister helped me roll out and make little gumdrop flowers.
Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We made gumdrop mushrooms and gumdrop grass,and especially gumdrop carrots.  The gummy carrots and frogs were by far your favorite.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

I made semi-homemade pizza (thank you Trader Joe’s for your yummy and inexpensive pizza dough!), because pizza is still your favorite dinner.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

After dinner you finally got to open the rest of your presents.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

You really got into the present openingTurning Three | InAnOrchard

We sang Happy Birthday loudly and you suddenly got a little shy.  The chocolate cake was enjoyed to it’s fullest, and got spread from ear to ear.Turning Three | InAnOrchardWe love you darling girl, you make us laugh everyday with your goofy smiles and funny phrases.

 

 

Scenes from Summer

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

This nearly turned into a post-less summer.  But brace yourself my friend, you’re about to get 8 weeks worth of summer in one shot.  I hope it won’t feel too jumbled but we’re going to go heavy on the pictures and light on the words (just the way I like it). Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Grandpa W dusted off the boat and treated us to a day on the lake.  Which makes some of the best memories my kiddos have.  There’s just something magical about the lake, playing hard all afternoon, pulling the boat into the dock as the last bit of sunlight disappears and loading tired, happy kids into the van.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Summer mornings start in the garden with my girls, dirty feet, and buckets of water full of flowers.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

There have been outdoor parties with the cousins.
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We celebrated Father’s day with my Dad a little early this year before my parents headed back to their home in Oregon.  I think this might be one of my favorite pictures of him.  So typical, surrounded by eager children as he gushes over handmade cards and gifts.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

I insisted we take some photos since visits are fewer and farther between now.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We don’t do serious real wellScenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We spent a hot summer night at our sweet friends’ house eating homemade sourdough pizza…
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

….and hula hooping in the front yardScenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We visited the water park several times and the kids made themselves at home in the water, playing so hard, and snacking poolside in their swimsuits with their brown summer skin.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Does it get more summer than this?Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Play hard all day, read all night
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Vases of flowers inspired art by Miss E, who has fallen in love with acrylic paints (which is fun and also tricky because watercolors are so much easier to clean up!)
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

The highlight of the summer could arguably be when Grandma W treated the grandchildren to an overnight stay at a cabin near Mt. Hermon.  For 5 days and 4 nights the grandkids took turns staying with Grandma at the cabin.  The first two nights the girls joined her, and the last two nights we switched the girls for the boys.  My sister-in-law Jessica and I drove up on Saturday to make the switch, and spent a lovely Saturday playing in the redwoods and swimming near a waterfall.  Grandpa W also came up so stay with Grandma and the boys.  Such wonderful memories of hiking, ice cream eating, and playing in the creek. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We also had our share of sickness this summer.  First sweet Miss P ran a high fever for a week solid.  When it became clear that this wasn’t a virus that was going to run it’s course, we made a doctor’s appointment.  Poor baby spent the better part of the day running a high fever, having blood drawn, and x-rays taken; only to find out she had Strep throat. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Exactly one week later big sis came down with Strep too.  I was so bone weary of being confined to home, working hard to keep the girls comfortable and trying desperately to keep the rest of the family from getting sick.  Thankfully only the girls ended up getting sick and summer life could finally resume. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

I never get tired of seeing fresh flowers and eggs in the kitchen.
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Justin took another week-long trip to France and this little girl missed him tremendously (we all did but Miss P especially needs her morning snuggles with dad)Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Our ray of sunshine turned three, but that deserves a post of it’s own
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

See you soon my friends, so much so catch up on, happy changes for our family…but more on that later (wasn’t that a rotten way to end a post :-) )

Mars Party

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard My G loves astronomy so we frequently check the Sky Watching calendars to see what interesting things might be seen in our own backyard.  We hosted a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse party back in the fall, and it was such a blast we decided to make it a habit.  Happily, on the first weekend of our summer break, Mars would be at it’s closest rotation to the earth and visible to the naked eye.  We decided to throw a big Mars Viewing Party with lots of food, a telescope, and bubbles and glow sticks for the kids.  We invited friends, neighbors, family and all total about 72 people dined on our back lawn that night.  Justin spent his evenings that week planning and prepping the menu.  We dined on brisket, and pulled pork sandwiches, kettle chips, Sweet Basil Salad, watermelon, my Mother-in-laws amazing baked beans, and every family brought a plate of cookies to share for dessert.  As the night descended and I stood on the porch looking out at all the faces talking and laugh, children chasing each other across the lawn with bubbles and glow sticks; I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful group of people we have surrounding our little family.  Little girls dangling their feet off the back porch, the warm hugs, the women who stood with me in my kitchen and laughed as we ushered food in and out of the kitchen…what a gift, what a precious gift.

Playing with Sourdough

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I’ve always enjoyed baking bread, even when I was a young girl.  I loved the taste of homemade bread so much that I taught myself how to bake it when I was just 13-years-old.  Over the years, I’ve made countless loaves of traditional white bread, Focaccia bread, dinner rolls, pizza dough, and honey wheat bread.  But this past winter I started tinkering around with sourdough baking.  I’ve been intrigued by sourdough for so long now, reading lots of recipes and articles, and I’ve watched way too many clips on Youtube.  I finally knuckled down and made my own starter from scratch.  I used the King Arthur Flour, sourdough starter recipe and I followed it to the letter.

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

It worked perfectly!  I did as they recommended and began my starter with rye flour (the wild yeasts and good bacteria like the heavier, more nutritious flours and that helps jump-start the starter) and by day three I had lots of gassy bubbles in my starter jar!  I was so ridiculously happy about it I walked all over the house showing it to Justin and the kids.  ”Look! Look!  I’ve got bubbles!”   After I got the starter going with the rye flour I switched and began to feed it whole wheat flour.  Eventually, (after I knew I had a nice colony of wild yeasts going strong) I converted my starter to white flour.

I’ve kept it fed and happy ever since (it’s about three and a half months old now).  Some weeks I leave it out on the counter and feed it daily, but on busy weeks I stick it in the fridge and mostly ignore it.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

One of my favorite sourdough recipes so far has been King Arthur Flour’s Buttery Sourdough Buns.  I love this recipe! They are so soft and tender with butter swirled in the middle and then brushed on top right before serving.  They have a more subtle sourdough flavor than a traditional sourdough loaf.  The brilliant thing about these roll is you can add what ever you want to the middle; think of it as a type of savory cinnamon roll.  I’ve added garlic infused butter with grated Parmesan cheese to the centers.  One of the people who commented on the original recipe, said they had added caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese to their buns.  Doesn’t that sounds insanely good!?
Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I’ve made this recipe a half dozen times now and I’ve tweaked it just a little.  I increased the yeast to 4 teaspoons, and instead of spreading melted butter inside the swirls I used very soft butter.  Using the softened butter instead of melted butter, made it easier to roll the dough into a spiral shape.  I also made the mistake of rolling my spiral too tight the first time and the rolls didn’t rise properly.  They baked up so dense.  As frustrating as it was to loose an entire batch of rolls, is was an easy mistake to remedy.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

The one element of baking with sourdough that I had to adjust to, was measuring my flour by weight instead of volume.  Most of the time when I bake I use measuring cups for my dry ingredients, but I’ve found that most sourdough recipes need more precise measurements.  Getting the dough properly hydrated is important and I ruined a batch because I added too much flour.  I stole Justin’s small digital food scale and I use it to measure out my flour in ounces.   I haven’t had any trouble since I started weighing the flour.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I hope I’m not scaring you.  It’s a friendly recipe I promise!  It makes 18 of the most delicious dinner rolls you’ve ever eaten.  So soft and tender with just the perfect amount of tang.Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I have yet to tackle any artisanal bread like baguettes or boules; I’ve stuck with simpler recipes like dinner rolls, sandwich loaf bread, and these amazingly good waffles!  I found the recipe herePlaying with Sourdough | InAnOrchardNext on my list of sourdough recipes to try is this Roasted Garlic Rustic Sourdough Boule.   I think I’m up for the challenge ;)

If you’re interested in experimenting with your own sourdough starter I really do recommend  King Arthur Flour’s sourdough starter recipe, as well as their article about maintaining and using your starter. And if you’d like to be completely inspired by an amazing baker you should check out Alchemy Bread Co’s Instagram feed.  Bonnie’s bread is gorgeous!  She carves beautiful designs in the top of her sourdough boules, and she shapes the most interesting baguettes I’ve ever seen.   Oh, and if you have any sourdough recipes you love or any tips I’d love to hear them!

Happy Baking!  April

 

We Ran Away

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchardWe ran away together.  To the sleepy little town of Mendocino which is happily situated between the towering coastal Redwood forests and the rocky shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.  It is a town full of Inns, weathered water towers, tiny shops, paths lined with dark Cyprus trees, and one small cemetery with tilting headstones that looks so lovely in the last of the evening light.

We ate leisurely breakfasts, attempted to sleep in (which neither of us is very good at these days), walked under Redwoods next to winding creeks, read library books, stayed up late eating chocolate covered pretzels and watching movies, took so many pictures, wandered around the Mendocino headlands, and three days later came home to our 4 favorite little people.

Our Library System

I remember walking out of the library that day, my face red with embarrassment, and thinking, “I could have bought books, lots of nice books, for the amount of money I just spent on late fines.” I stewed for the rest of the day, and in the end I made the decision to never go to the library again. Ever.  I mean, who needs the stress of keeping track of dozens of books for weeks at a time, or the humiliation of having to explain to the librarian why there’s silly putty stuck to the “Curious Gorge takes a Job” cassette tape?  Not me.

Fast forward a year; the boys were older, J was becoming a solid reader and G was a shaky newbie reader in need of lots of practice.  Miss E adored picture books and could look at them endlessly.  Over and over, I would think of books I wanted to read to them, the drawing books we could have fun with, reading about trucks and tractors, and the solar system…

Finally I came to the realization that it was time for me to grow up and get a grip.  It’s taken me time, some tweaking, and a lot of diligence, but I finally have a library system that works for us, and I’m happy to say that in the last two and a half years we’ve kept our late fines under 75 cents.

Our Library System | In An Orchard

Our local library sells these great book bags.  They’re sturdy, roomy (which is really important), and inexpensive.  I bought one for each of us.  One of the things I love best about these totes is the little pocket in the front.  I always keep all of our library cards in my wallet.  I used to let the kids keep their own but the were constantly getting lost.  Now they stay in my wallet until library day when I slip their cards into the pocket of their bags.
Our Library System | In An Orchard

Once the kids have filled their library bags and checked out all their books, I make sure they give me their book receipts and I stick them straight into my wallet.  The moment I get home I set my things down, pull the receipts from my purse and I write the due date on the calendar in bright red ink.  I know this sounds rigid but if I don’t write it on the calendar immediately I will forget ( I have the short-term memory of a goldfish).  And if the date isn’t written on the calendar it might as well not exist because I won’t remember it either.  So, the calendar gets marked right away, not only with the due date, but with the number of books that were taken out on each library card.  That was a great little tip my mother-in-law suggested and it’s been a huge time saver. That way I know exactly how many books we’re keeping track of at a glance.
Our Library System | In An Orchard

As a backup, I pin our book receipts to the board above my sewing machines.  Most of the time I don’t end up needing them.  I just make sure that the number on the calendar matches the number of the books we have in the book boxes.  But every once in awhile we get a rouge book or two and I need to consult the receipts to figure out exactly which book has gone AWOL.Our Library System | In An Orchard

The book boxes are without a doubt, the best idea I have ever come up with.  I know, that’s a pretty low bar.  But let me explain the simple but magnificent beauty of the book boxes.  All the library books go into the boxes, the children know exactly where to find them, and exactly where to put them away.  Gone are the days of frantically looking under beds, in toy boxes, through vehicles, under couch cushions, and in the bottom of closets.  The kiddos find the books they want to read, they sprawl out all over the living-room reading and when they’re done they put them all back in the boxes.
Our Library System | In An Orchard

And you know what?  Because the books are so easy to find and access, they get read a whole lot more.  We find ourselves at the library pretty much every three weeks.  Having a fresh batch of books cycling in and out of the house has been so great for the kids and their reading.  Naturally, our lives get busy and there are times when it’s a struggle to get the books back to the library; which is why I keep all of our library card passwords written down in a safe place so I can easily renew our books online.  Being able to renew books online has saved me so much time and money!

Another big and slightly unpopular decision I made, was to put a stop to the children checking out videos or audio cassette tapes.  They are so much harder to keep track of, easier to damage, and the late fines are twice as much as a book.  I bend that rule now and again for a special treat or for an educational DVD that supplements what we’ve been leaning at home.  On the rare occasion that we do bring a DVD home I put on the highest shelf of our bookcase and it stays there, safe and out of the reach of careless children.
Our Library System | In An OrchardSo, the moral of this story?  Learn from my mistakes my friends, find a library system that works for you and stick with it.  Don’t waste another day avoiding the library because you’ve been singing the “I’ve got the outrageous library fine blues”, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Also, if you have any great tips or tricks for keeping track of library books I’d love to hear them!

 

Our Christmas~

In our 10 years of raising a family we’ve never had to deal with illness over Christmas.  I’ve spent my share of New Year’s Eve, and Valentines Days nursing sick kiddos… but never Christmas.  This year changed all that; we pretty much spent all of Christmas break taking turns being sick.  I was the last and the hardest to fall.  Truthfully I’m still not fully recovered but I’m slowly (much too slowly) starting to feel more like myself.

Christmas 2015

Despite all the fevers, and stomach bugs we did have some sweet times together.  Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Decorating the GIANT Christmas tree Justin and the boys brought home.  They love getting out the ornament box every year.  They each have favorites that they look forward to putting on the tree; which can be the source of a few squabbles.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

We did our annual Christmas cookie baking and decorating day.  They consumed ridiculous amounts of sugar, my sanity barely held, and a week later I’m still sweeping up red and green sprinkles.  Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

This girl… she was in sugar heaven.  She couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her eat sprinkles straight from the bottle.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Between the winter storms we found time to get some fresh air.  A little walk down the canal and though the orchard.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Evenings were spent being cozy near the fire.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Justin kept the Miss P occupied one morning while I did Christmas baking.  She loves making block towers.
Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

The kiddos went ice skating for the very first time and loved it.  Miss E met the challenge with her usual dogged determination.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

J has his own set of roller-blades, so he was speeding across the rink in no time.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Even G enjoyed skating.  He’s my guy who’s usually apprehensive to try something new.  I was pleasantly surprised when he lace up and headed out onto the ice without any coaxing on my part,  I was so proud of him!Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas morning was a little unusual.  Justin had been up early with J who had thrown up during the night.  J managed to open his gifts but climbed into bed as soon as all the presents were opened and slept most of the day.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

G loved the trapper cap I got him and the boys played many, many rounds of checkers with their new checker board.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

This guy also celebrated his 9th Birthday!  He was such a good sport.  We had planned a fun birthday outing  to The Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, but we ended up having to delay it because I came down with the flu.  Poor guy!  He enjoyed his presents, pizza and chocolate cake nonetheless.  Christmas 2015 | InanorchardAnd suddenly, just like that, it’s a new year!

I’ve got some fun Christmas projects that I’m excited to show you all, hopefully soon!

Hope your Christmas was wonderful and much less germ-riddled than ours :)